Frederik Pohl is the living grandmaster of science fiction. His career has lasted for over seventy years.

Pohl's latest novel has just been released. Its title, All The Lives He Led, is apt as it could describe Pohl's own accomplishments.

Frederik Pohl started off, like so many others in the genre, as a fan. While still in his teens in the 1930's, Pohl co-founded The Futurians. The Futurians were a group of fans and budding professional science fiction writers whose ranks included such luminaries as Isaac Asimov, Donald A. Wollheim, C.M. Kornbluth. Damon Knight, Judith Merrill, James Blish, and others. Some are remembered by fans, and others are virtually forgotten.

Damon Knight wrote a ridiculously entertaining book about the group, which is called The Futurians. If you have anything more than the slightest interest in the history of the SF field, you need to locate a copy.

Pohl's first sale, a poem called Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna, was published in the October 1937 issue of Amazing Stories. It was accredited to "Elton Andrews". In his career Pohl used over a dozen different pen names.

Pohl began work as a literary agent in 1937, as part time work. Later, after serving his country in the Army in World War 2 as a Weatherman, Pohl started working full time as an agent, representing many of the genre's most successful writers, including Isaac Asimov.

In 1939, Pohl was assigned the task of editing, not one, but two small science fiction magazines: Astonishing Stories, and Super Science Stories. He published numerous stories by himself (under pseudonyms) and other Futurians. Later, in the early 1950's, Mr. Pohl began editing two of the biggest SF periodicals in the market: Galaxy, and If. He is widely regarded as one of the chief individuals to bring the genre up to higher literary standards than it had previously been known for.

Though Pohl never quit penning fiction, his own writing took a backseat to his duties as an agent and an editor. This did not prevent him from writing, or co-writing, some of the best SF of the 1950's and 1960's. His legendary collaborations with C.M. Kornbluth rightly get the most acclaim. Their most famous novel together, The Space Merchants, is a certified classic in the field.

In the 1970's, Pohl became a book editor for Bantam, acquiring numerous groundbreaking titles for the publisher. Most notably were Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren, and Joanna Russ's The Female Man. He also did some that have aged terribly, such as certain titles by Mack Reynolds.

In 1976 Frederik Pohl began his writing career anew with a bold novel called Man Plus. Man Plus was the story of a near future where humanity's existence depended on colonization of Mars. A man is surgically enhanced to survive on its surface.

Man Plus was easily the finest, most ambitious novel Pohl had written up until then, and it won The Nebula Award. But it was Pohl's next novel that was to be his most famous, and, arguably, his best book ever: Gateway.

Gateway was the winner of both the Nebula and the Hugo, which are SF's highest honors. The story deals with the discovery of hundreds of abandoned spaceships, which were built by an alien race that are known as the Heechees. The ships are preprogrammed and are easy enough to get started. So if you can get the fare out to the asteroid where the ships were left, you can take a chance on a trip. You can come back emptyhanded. You can come back fabulously wealthy. Or you may not come back at all.

I was an avid SF reader for many years. This was before I wearied of it and became a horror reader. For a good number of those years, my very favorite writer was Frederik Pohl. I read every book that was published, and I sought out all of his past works. I can honestly say that I have never been disappointed in anything by the man.

Regretfully, I gave up on not only Pohl's writing, but all of SF. I was sick of outer space and speculations of the future. I wanted the supernatural and suspense. The last Pohl novel I read was The Day The Martians Came, which was published in 1988. It was actually a story-cycle kind of novel. Oh, and I reread his amazing novel, Starburst, sometime in 2008.

In 2010 Frederik Pohl went full-circle and won The Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. This was bestowed upon him for the work he does on his marvelous blog, The Way The Future Blogs. The title of the blog is a joke on the title of Pohl's autobiography, The Way The Future Was. Which in itself is as good a history of the SF genre as you're likely to read.

I have Pohl's latest, All The Lives He Led, on reserve at the library. In fact, it's waiting for me to pick it up now. I've neglected the career of Frederik Pohl for too long, and I'd consider myself a cad were I to ignore this publication. I mean, this might sound cold, but it could be his last book. The man is 92 years old, after all.

Frederik Pohl may not have reached the fame of The Big Three (Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov), but his accomplishments are no less remarkable. In fact, it could be argued that Pohl has had more influence than these men. He has had his hands in every aspect of the science fiction genre. The genre as we know it would be far different if it weren't for his involvement. It would be a much poorer field had he not led the lives in it that he did.

If you're an old fan or at least a reader of Pohl's work, I ask you to take a chance on All The Lives He Led. If you haven't read him, why not give Gateway a try? I assure you that it is not the kind of science fiction that you are accustomed to.

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